Today I wanted to share with you my latest culinary creation – a 2-tier Great Gatsby Roaring ’20s cake. A few weeks ago on Instagram, I posted 4 polls from which you could choose to help plan my next cake design. One of the categories, animal vs. decade, ended in an exact tie! So, I narrowed down the options to bee-theme vs. 1920s-theme, re-polled my lovely virtual friends, and voila: roaring ’20s cake won by a landslide.
So, in this post, I’m going to share my method so you can replicate this style of cake on your own! It’s great for any decade-themed party (if we ever go back to parties again – lol) or gifts for friends who love the jazz era, filled with music, dancing, and carefree living.
Without further ado, let’s begin! First, peruse the tools list to gather what you need. Then, check out the written instructions! Finally, don’t forget to have fun!
Roaring ’20s Cake Recipe, Ingredients & Tools Lists
To create your very own roaring ’20s cake, you’ll need to gather the following ingredients (in bold) and tools. I’ve included links (affiliate) for your easy shopping and reference!
Ingredients You’ll Need
Of course, the first thing you need is cake. I experimented with a new cake batter recipe and split it into two 4-inch layers, and two 6-inch layers. It worked super well, but you can use any recipe or flavor you prefer. If you want to recreate my cake to the exact size specifications (which we’ll discuss a little later) be sure your cake recipe is a larger one, formulated to fill three 8-inch cake layers.
Keep in mind that changing the size of pans against a recipe means that your cook time will be different. Smaller pans will cook faster, but if they are more full, they may take longer than expected. It’s okay if you’re not sure how long to cook them, you don’t even need to set a timer. Stay near the cakes, and always use these two visual cues to test for doneness:
- Before opening the oven, give it a soft bump and watch your cakes through the window. If the centers of the cakes wobble, they aren’t cooked yet. Once they don’t wobble, move to step two.
- Check the center of the cake with a toothpick. When it comes out clean, the cakes are done. Always check quickly so as not to release too much oven heat if the layers or larger layers still need to cook.
Always let your cakes cool fully before moving on with the decorating process. I usually bake my cakes the night before decorating. Then, I wrap them in two layers of plastic wrap and let them freeze overnight. Before decorating, I pull them out and let them warm up naturally – though, they don’t need to be thawed to begin!
Next, prepare your buttercream! My absolute favorite for decorating is vanilla American crusting buttercream since it holds up extremely well to layering, smoothing, and piping. You can see an example of it here.
The recipe is super simple:
- 2 cups room-temp butter (4 sticks)
- 8 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract (or another flavor of your choosing)
- 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
- 3-5 tbsp milk, room temperature
Method: Beat the butter in a stand mixer until combined. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating and scraping the bowl down in between each addition. Finally, add the vanilla extracts (or another flavoring of your choice). If your buttercream mixture is extra stiff, you can add up to 5 tbsp of milk. However, do so with caution, and only add a small bit at one time.
You’ll also need some white fondant and, optionally, multi-sized edible pearls for decorating. I only had one size of edible pearls, so I supplemented those with some fondant “pearls” I created myself. To complete the edible side of your grocery list, be sure not to forget the gold luster dust! You’ll also need some clear, food-grade alcohol to transform the pigment into paint.
Gather The Following Cake Tools & Miscellaneous Decor Items
- 2, 6-inch cake pans
- 2, 4-inch cake pans with a 3″ depth
- Mixing bowls of varying sizes
- Stand mixer with paddle and whisk (you can use a handheld, but it’s not recommended)
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Cake leveler/wire, turntable, cake scraper, offset spatula, piping bags – all can be purchased in a kit like this
- Wire cooling rack
- Food coloring gels – I used Americolor’s Royal Blue, Sky Blue, Plum, and Black to create my Navy; and Leaf Green, Electric Yellow, and Sky Blue for my Teal
- Plastic wrap
- Fondant toolset with scallop stamper
- Silicone mat for protecting the work surface from fondant
- Food-safe paint brushes
- 1920s-style feather for garnish
How To Assemble & Decorate Your Roaring ’20s Cake
1. Torte, layer, and crumb coat the two tiers individually.
First, use your cake wire to level off each of the domed layers of the tiers. Use an offset spatula to add frosting on each of the “bottom” layers, and then place the respective “top” layers on (top facing down.) Remember, you’re assembling each cake tier separately, to begin. (In other words, don’t worry about stacking the tiers together yet.) It doesn’t matter which cake layer is the top or bottom, but I typically choose whichever has a cleaner bottom edge to become the “top” layer. Once inverted, it creates a nice, structured corner for your cake.
With the same spatula, add a large amount of the colored buttercream to the top of each cake. I used navy on the 6-inch cake and teal on the 4-inch, but you can use any combination of colors you like! Hold the bottom of the spatula flat against the top of the buttercream while rotating your turntable to smooth the frosting out and over the edge. Especially if your cake edges curve in slightly, be careful not to smooth too much frosting off of the top edge. A structured corner on the crumb coat helps keep your edges sharper after the final buttercream addition.
Once you’re relatively happy with the flatness of the top of your cake – and, remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect just yet – apply more frosting to cover the rest of the sides. Then, holding your cake scraper tight against the side of the cake, begin to rotate your turntable again. Remove the frosting from the scraper periodically to create a smooth crumb coat. With sweeping-in motions, use the bottom of your spatula to smooth out the ridge of buttercream that has formed around the top edge. Refrigerate both cake tiers for 10-20 minutes, or until the buttercream is firm to the touch.
Tip: If you need a more thorough walk-through of layering and crumb-coating cakes, you can find more info in my video tutorial here.
2. Add the final coat of buttercream.
Apply more buttercream to the top and sides of each cake, in the same manner as before. Again, use your cake scraper to smooth down the sides. If any “holes” appear in the frosting, simply add more buttercream to “patch” it up, and then continue smoothing. Then, use sweeping motions with the bottom of the offset spatula to carefully smooth out any ridges that have formed on the top edge of the cake.
Once you’re happy with the final coat, refrigerate the cakes again, once more, until the buttercream is exceptionally hard to the touch.
3. In the meantime, create your fondant rose and pearls.
To create fondant pearls of the same size, first, roll and flatten a piece of fondant until it is level. Cut off the edges to create a square or rectangle. Then, with straight lines, cut out a grid of same-sized squares. After doing so, you can roll each square in the palm of your hands to create spheres of exact size for a polished, clean look. Repeat the process with smaller or larger grids to make more pearl sizes. You can roll each of the pearls in luster dust to add a natural shine. Let them sit aside, uncovered.
Next, to create your rose, roll out a very thin piece of fondant. With the plastic tools, cut out 3-4 teardrop shapes, slightly smaller than you wish for your final rose petals to be. With the point of the “teardrop” shape facing down, roll one of the petals in on itself to create the center of the rose. Then, continue to wrap the small petals around this first one. At first, they’ll overlap greatly. However, as the rose gets larger, the petals will overlap less.
Create a few more petals, slightly larger in size, and continue adding them to the flower until it is as full as you wish. Bend and mold the petals slightly to give the rose a more life-like appearance. Finally, let it dry, uncovered, to hold its shape. I like to place two forks upside down and rest the flower in between so air can circulate all around.
4. Stack your roaring ’20s cake tiers together.
Typically, when layering cakes, you must add dowels for stability. However, due to the miniature size of my roaring ’20s cake and the hearty pound-cake-like recipe (as opposed to a delicate sponge), that wasn’t necessary. If you choose to make a larger cake or use a light sponge recipe, though, you’ll definitely want to add the support.
Once the buttercream has crusted, add a small amount of fresh buttercream to the center of the larger cake. This will create a “glue” for our top tier. Then, gently lift the smaller cake off of the turntable with a spatula, and place it on top of the larger one. Use one finger for stability on either the back or top of the cake while you lift it. Since the buttercream has crusted, it will hold up well to a gentle, guiding touch.
Optionally, you can choose to leave the cakes separate and serve them as a set, rather than one cake, as shown below!
5. Create and add the fondant fringe and scallops.
Color some fondant in whatever hue you choose for the fringe. I like to use a toothpick to add just a little at a time. It also helps to color the fondant faster by twisting the color into it, rather than kneading and folding.
Working quickly so the colored fondant doesn’t dry out, roll and flatten it into a long, narrow rectangle. Trim off the top and bottom edges to create a smooth line. Then, use quick, sharp motions with the fondant cutter to make short cuts perpendicularly along the edge, leaving about 1/4 of an inch at the top to hold the fringe together. Carefully lift the fringe up onto your cake, securing the top of it with a tiny amount of fresh buttercream if it doesn’t stick well. Go back through the fringe again with a pointed fondant tool, separating some of the fondant to create a natural movement.
In the same color fondant, roll and cut out three long, thin strips to create a braid. If you need help braiding, check out my pie crust decorating video tutorials here – the method is exactly the same whether fondant, pie crust, or hair – lol. Attach this braid to the cake at the top of the fringe to add a clean, decorative look.
Next, roll out some fondant for your scallop design, coloring it if you wish. Use the circular border stamp to create pieces of scalloped trim. Attach the top-most piece of scalloping first, after which moving onto the middle, and bottom layers. You can use a rounded fondant tool to press the bottom border of the final scalloped piece in for a polished, clean finish.
6. Add your finishing touches.
With a little bit of extra buttercream, attach your pearls to the cake tiers. Then, place your flower on top, surrounded by a feather, or a few.
Finally, in a tiny bowl, add a few drops of clear, food-grade alcohol to a little of your gold pigment, mixing with a paintbrush to combine until the consistency is like paint. With gentle strokes, decorate the scallops, fringe, pearls, and whatever else you wish with flashy gold garnish.
7. Grab a cocktail and enjoy your roaring ’20s cake!
Voila! With that, your roaring ’20s cake is complete! Just a few notes to keep in mind:
- American buttercream cakes last at room temperature, covered, for 2-3 days. Use a piece of plastic wrap to cover any exposed parts of the cake after cutting into it. Refrigerate or freeze after 3 days.
- Fondant tends to become melty and soft in the refrigerator, so don’t use any cake flavor/fillings that must be refrigerated.
- To cut the cake, remove the top tier, first.
- It’s always good practice to remind any recipients that, though most of the cake is edible, the feathers are not. Just in case. Lol.
I Cannot Wait To See Your Roaring ’20s Cake!
Find me on Instagram so we can keep in touch, and be sure to tag me in any photos you post of your roaring ’20s cake! I love to see your works of culinary art. And, remember, you can always reach out to me via email, DM, or comment for any assistance! I’m so happy to help!
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Take care guys! Until next time…
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